Darwin Initiative Assignment was one of the complicated assignments I have faced till date and I wasn't surprised when my weird imagination took me to the world of Star Trek. 

Captains log Stardate [-28] 6184.2 
Targ (Targhus targhmey) are boar like creature with sharp tusks, that are endemic to the planet of Kronos and have a very important part to play in the Klingon culture. I might be the first ever person to be writing a conservation strategy involving the Klingon Community in my field. 

Klingon and Kronos seems too 'OUT OF THE WORLD' to get mentioned in a serious assignment, so I decided to put them as an endemic tribe belonging to the Southern Western Ghats, India, therefore making Klingon the tribals belonging to the Kronos tribe.

And now, here's the story! :D

Introduction –

Western Ghats or the Sahyadri is the continuous stretch of wet evergreen forests from Kanyakumari (the southern tip of India) to Maharashtra, covering 1600Km becoming one of the top 10 biodiversity hot-spots from around the world, being home to around 5000 species of flowering plants, 140 species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians, majority being endemic to this stretch of forests. Western Ghats is also home to a number of Tribals or Adivasis. Klingon are indigenous tribals belonging to the Kronos tribe in Southern Western Ghats. Klingon are agrarian tribals known for their expertise in Traditional knowledge of endemic medicinal plants. Agriculture and cattle rearing are their means of livelihood. The traditional knowledge of tribal people is important for the conservation of bio-diversity. Traditional ecological knowledge deals with a wide variety of aspects including animal behaviour and plant properties. Targs (Targhus targhmey) are boar like beast with sharp tusks that are endemic to the Western Ghats and have a very important part to play in the Kronos culture.

On a general perspective, the conservation of wildlife in the Western Ghats has been nearly effective without the participation of indigenous communities. Tribals For Nature (TFN) is known for their active involvement from the community side in the conservation of endangered species in the Western Ghats. This organisation, with their previous successful conservation story on the captive breeding of Qagh, a serpent that was critically endangered due to illegal hunting for bush-meat and leather, will be working with the Klingon to conserve the remaining handful of Targs in the Western Ghats.

Background –

Targ (Targhus targhmey) is one of the keystone species in its habitat as it is responsible for the germination and seed disposal of many medicinal plants, which are used by the Kronos tribe. Targs are also known as the ploughers of the land, scavenging for fruits and seeds, they plough the land making it habitable for other plants to germinate. Towards the 1990’s the population of Targs were down to a 1800 animals, which is around 80% decline within the past 4 decades. Targs have a cultural importance in the life of the Klingon. Targs are hunted for their skull, which is worn on the Klingon head during their cultural ceremonies and also, Targs are a delicacy by tradition. Hunting of Targs for cultural as well as delicacy, has indirectly affected the Klingon with low availability of medicinal plants. With the disappearance of the Targs, certain medicinal plants like Ageratum conyzoides, Aglaia roxburghiana and so on used by the Klingon to cure Venomous snake bites/scorpion bites and diseases like Diarrhoea and so on, also started to disappear. 

 Project Design –

This research project will deal with the conservation of the schedule 1 species (Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972), Targ (Targhus targhmey) with the active involvement of the Kronos tribe. Data show that Klingon hunting Targ as delicacy is just to continue their tradition started by their ancestors. TFN with their conservation achievements, will be educate the Klingon on the harmful effects of over exploitation of Targ for meat and cultural ceremonies . The project will deal with environmental education concerning the need to Conserve Targ. It will also deal with capacity building and training of Klingon and other local people in the captive breeding and conservation of Targ along with the conservation of endangered medicinal plants. This will help TFN to carry our practical conservation, sustainable use for the conservation of the Targ, Kronos and Biodiversity.  TFN will also focus on the long-term conservation of the bio-diversity by training the local people as well as the tribals in the captive breeding of Targ.

This project is designed to strengthen bio-diversity; its long-term goal is to bring back the Targ population to a self-sustaining level and also to generate alternative income/livelihood for the locals and tribals by sustainable use of resources. As a sub-goal, this project will also deal with the recovery of Shola grasslands, which has been severely exploited due to the uncontrolled grazing of the cattle by Klingon. This project also looks into conserving and rehabilitating the lost Shola grasslands by selective grazing and agroforestry. Laying trust on the positive outcome of the research, this project also aims in repopulating the medicinal plants like Ageratum conyzoides, Aglaia roxburghiana so on, by reseeding, as they are an integral part of the Klingon race and pharmacology.

Conclusion -

With the successful establishment of this project, local people and Klingon will have another source of livelihood apart from agriculture and cattle rearing. In the long run with a sustaining population of Targ (Targhus targhmey), other important wildlife interactions will be established which would be vital in converting the now, non-protected area into a protected area or Targ sanctuary. The re-establishment of viable population of Targ in the wild will be culturally helpful for Kronos and an alternative will be suggested, avoiding the future hunting and exploitation of Targ by Klingon for their cultural use. This project deals with The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020; With the theme “Living in harmony with nature” this project will work on building and conserving the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their customary use of biological resources, at the local levels through the conservancies.

So, there ends my Klingon story. It is definitely Klingon with some bad ass research, training, capacity building, species and ecosystem approach. lol. This imaginative project shows nothing more than the fantasy of a Star Trek (Trekkie) fan's conservation biology life.  

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